Efforts to improve the growth and profitability of the cocoa and oil palm industries in Ghana has received a boost with the launch of the phase two of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification, and Sustainable West Africa Oil Palm Agriculture Productivity Programmes.
It was on the theme, ‘Agriculture service provision: A critical driver for sector transformation’.
The 31million Euros five-year programme being implemented by Solidaridad, a Dutch-based international non-governmental organisation, is being funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands, which is providing 27 million Euros and the Switzerland government through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, providing 4 million Euros.
Among the objectives of the CORIP II and SWAPP II, which began in 2017 and being implemented concurrently in Ghana, Cote D’ Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone is to improve productivity in the cocoa and oil palm industries to increase the incomes and improve the livelihoods of farmers in the two sectors.
The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Osei Nyarko who launched the programme commended Solidaridad for initiating the programmes and the Dutch and Swiss governments for sponsoring them.
With the dwindling soil fertility and growing population, he said there was the need to improve productivity in the cocoa and oil palm sectors with the existing farms in order not to clear more forest to exacerbate deforestation in the country.
He said agriculture remained the backbone of the economy and government would continue to create the enabling environment for the sector to thrive.
Mr Nyarko said the Ghana Tree Crop Development Authority would soon be established to build a vibrant tree crop sector, stating that the Draft Bill on the Ghana Tree Crop Development Authority was validated by the players in the tree and crops sector last week.
The Regional Director for Solidaridad West Africa, Isaac Gyamfi in his remarks called for a strong service delivery for players in the cocoa and oil palm sectors, saying, “this is critical to attract the youth to the agriculture sector”.
He also emphasised the need for the country to invest in modern technologies in agriculture in order to attract the youth to the sector and also improve productivity.
Mr Gyamfi for instance intimated that only one per cent of the citizens of Netherlands were engaged in agriculture, but the country was able to produce enough to feed the country and for export.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Cocobod in charge of Quality, Dr Emmanuel Agyemang said the project was in line with the programme of the Cocobod to improve productivity in the cocoa sector from the current 500 kilogrammes per hectare to 1000 kilogrammes by 2021, stressing that Cocobod had started implementing the Productivity Enhancement Programme to that effect.
The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Ron Strikker said the cocoa and oil palm sectors were critical to the Ghanaian economy.
He said the Netherland government, which is the largest importer of cocoa and palm oil in Europe, was supporting the two initiatives to build a vibrant cocoa and oil palm sectors, stressing that by 2025, the Netherlands would stop the importation of cocoa and palm oil which were not produced sustainably and whose source could also not be traced.
The Country Representative for Solidaridad Ghana, Suzan-Hermina Yemidi said 20 Community-based experimental learning centres have been established and 200 trained with the relevant skills for employment for the phases of the programmes.
By Kingsley Asare